Matthew Petersen, who was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, withdrew from consideration, a White House official confirmed to TPM on Monday afternoon.
The President has accepted Petersen’s withdrawal, the official said.
Petersen pulled out just a few days after a video of him struggling to answer questions about the law at his confirmation hearing went viral.
In a letter obtained by ABC News, Petersen argued that he is qualified to be a judge but said that his nomination had become a distraction.
“I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television. However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your Administration and the Senate,” he wrote in the letter.
NEW: Matthew Petersen, Trump judicial nominee questioned before Senate Judiciary Committee last week, withdraws, writing, "My nomination has become a distraction." pic.twitter.com/b35bUEexcb
— ABC News (@ABC) December 18, 2017
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) quizzed Petersen on his legal background, prompting Petersen to reveal that he has never before tried a case in court. Kennedy then asked Petersen about several legal terms, which Petersen was unable to define.
Kennedy told New Orleans television station WWL-TV on Monday morning that he was concerned about Petersen’s qualifications.
“He has no litigation experience,” Kennedy said.
The senator also said that he spoke with Trump by phone on Saturday and that the President has told him that he does not vet his nominees himself.
“The president and I get along fine, and he has told me, he said, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send somebody over who’s not qualified, you do your job,’” Kennedy told WWL-TV. “And I said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ And I intend to do that.”